In 1996, Payday and Women of Colour Global Women’s Strike (WoC GWS) * met with undocumented immigrants in France who had started to call themselves ‘Sans-Papiers’ (people without papers). They were fighting for a new demand that brought together all immigrants regardless of their immigration status or countries of origin. The movement for ‘Papers for all’ was born.

Over the following decades, many Sans-Papiers collectives formed in France and their demand spread in many countries, under different designations – Papers for all, Regularisation, Status for all, Right to be here – but with the same aspiration to unite all immigrants and win the same rights as the nationals in the country they live.

*formerly Black Women for Wages for Housework

In March 1996, 300 mainly African immigrants women, children and men began to occupy various premises in Paris, famously the Church of Saint-Bernard to demand Papers for all. Unlike other movements against immigration controls, their movement was autonomous from NGOs and supporters. Women who were often leading the movement, have had sometimes to take their autonomy from men.

We published a booklet and subtitled the film ‘The Ballad of the Sans-Papiers’ to spread the ‘lessons’ this movement has taught us all.

Woman Sans-Papiers France
Woman Sans-Papiers in the occupation of the Church St-Bernard in Paris.
Regularizacion Ya

As the 2020 covid pandemic revealed how crucial was the ‘essential work’ done by immigrants, movements demanding Papers for all have risen in many countries. Jointly with groups members of Global Women Against Deportation (GWAD), we participated in an international coalition promoting Regularisation of all immigrants that should be immediate, permanent and without conditions. Their Manifesto was endorsed by over 280 organisations in 20 countries.

Since then, with Women of Colour GWS we have publicised and supported many initiatives in France, Belgium, Spain, Canada, Ireland and elsewhere. Read a message of support sent by Payday and WoC GWS in 2020 to the French movement of Sans-Papiers and the call to internationalise the struggle of 500 Sans-Papiers hunger strikers in Belgium in 2021.

Papers for all in many countries